How to be Especially Sweet this Halloween
The sweetest of all holidays is upon us and once again, we find ourselves bracing for sugar overload for kids and adults alike. Last year, NPR reported that Halloween candy sales were at an all-time high and consumers were “likely to splurge a little more on edible goodies.”
How often do you drive through Baltimore—especially at night—and notice the bright red lights of the Domino Sugar sign? Does it ever make you think about Baltimore’s long history of sugar and candy production? The iconic sign gives the nod to the area’s long history of food manufacturing and regional flavors, some of which have been mainstays for over a century.
Baltimore’s sweet history dates back to the Revolutionary War era, when the city became a major port of entry for raw sugar and secured its reputation as a regional center for sugar production. At the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab, you can find an assemblage from a sugar processing plant that was in operation between 1804 and 1829.
Domino still produces approximately 1.5 billion pounds of sugar annually. This and other enduring companies like McCormick, Bergers Cookies, Goetze’s Candy, and Mary Sue Candies show that Baltimore has always been at the crossroads of sweets and food manufacturing.
Goetze’s Candy will soon celebrate 125 years of candy production in Maryland. Founded in 1895 in Baltimore, the confectionary company started out as the Baltimore Chewing Gum Company before discontinuing its gum production in the 1940s to focus on making caramel products. Today, it continues to operate in its Baltimore facility, producing staples like Caramel Creams and Cow Tales, which are sold all over the world.
Bergers Cookies were first produced in 1835 when Henry Berger, a German immigrant and baker, arrived in the U.S. Still in operation today in Baltimore, Bergers hand-dips one of the region’s best-known and -loved cookies.
And while the tried and true companies are still going strong, the region also has newer treats to try. Mouth Party Caramels opened in 2007 by founder BG Purcell, with one flavor based on a four-generation-old family recipe.
Between then and 2013, Mouth Party has expanded multiple times, moving from a retail kitchen space, to a commercial kitchen facility (that also served as their first retail outlet), to their current facility in Timonium. Mouth Party’s expanded product line includes five standard and several seasonal flavors, and a line of decadent caramel sauces. The products can be found online and in more than 120 local and national retail locations.
b’more fluff, a one year-old cotton candy company owned by sisters Colleen and Natalie Kochesfahani, is bringing a classic treat into the 21st century. The sisters use only organic and all-natural ingredients in their handspun candy, which is both vegan and gluten-free. While cotton candy may bring back nostalgic memories of state fairs and baseball games, b’more fluff comes in a variety of distinctly modern flavors, including champagne, honey lavender, and key lime pie.
As we brace ourselves for the onslaught of Snickers, Tootsie Rolls and Almond Joys, consider the ways in which Baltimore’s food scene has thrived in the smallest of ways: Candies. Cookies. Cotton Candy. Over a hundred years of history can be held in the palm of your hand—literally!
This year, consider how your Halloween preparations can help spur local economic growth by handing out some of Baltimore’s original creations from your own front door.